Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Planning July JQ

Still on the theme of text and linked to Petra - I'm working on the rock dwelling entrances again as the main shape/form within the piece.
I have plastic bag dyed the base fabric and then applied Thermofax prints, one of an extract from my trip diary as 4 blocks of text each turned 90degrees to each other and one stylised Arabic calligraphy image.
In my first experiment I tried free machine stitching the shapes and freehand writing.
I was very unhappy with the free machined shapes and realise that this will not give me the effect I was looking for.
Then I thought I'd try using markal sticks and a stencil to create the illusion of shape.

At first I used a gold stick which gave a very subtle effect, so tried a pinky red stick, the effect of which I like a lot. I think the dark edge and then lighter shading works well.
I also tried quilting by hand and will add further detail by hand, the older technique reflecting the age of the dwellings.

I'm now ready to have a go at the real thing!

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Royal School of Needlework

I spent a fascinating day on Wednesday on a visit to the RSN. I only had a fairly sketchy idea of what they were about, other than their recent work to produce the lace for the royal wedding.
Set in the magnificent Hampton Court Palace, we were given a great introduction to the scope of the work done there and then the chance to see some of the intricate and time consuming conservation work undertaken. The work is exquisite, but the painstaking nature of the work would not be for everyone. (especially not me!) We watched one of the skilled needlewomen re-applying very old gilt stumpwork to a new velvet backing, if I'd not seen it done I would never have believed that the finished work had not always been on that piece of velvet. We were given a tantalising peek at the world of bespoke embroideries made for the very rich and were told of the items now in their collection as the owner couldn't aford the conservation they wanted and as a result, donated the work to the school.
They had one whole wall filled with pigeon holes of crewel wool in every shade imaginable! I coveted this!
We were told of the technique of using more than 1 colour in a needle to achieve subtle tone and colour changes - something I can use in my work too.
A totally fascinating visit - I also enjoyed the buzz of London after sleepy Northants and must remember to go down again to see the Miro exhibition.

June JQ - an update

Thanks to my fellow students I've found a solution to the problem and have printed some additional blocks of the little squares which has noe broken up the vertical I was so unhappy with.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

June JQ completed

I have really enjoyed working on this JQ and getting to grips with freehand text stitching. I managed to stitch PETRA from the reverse so that I could use heavier threads in the bobbin to make the text stand out better.
I realise that I need to plan out the 10" space more carefully next time rather than my habit of just doing it! I've ended up with one of the shapes exactly lined up with the edge of the printed text which creates a jarring in the way the eye scans the piece.
Now I can think about the next one, but not before I get the FoQ piece fully stitched. That must be my priority now.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

June JQ planning

For this and the next 3 months JQs must contain lettering. I'm still working from my Jordan inspiration and want to combine screen printed and embroidered script with ideas drawn from some interesting rock dwelling entrances.
My first trial was based on tea dyed cotton which was screen printed and block printed before I appliquéd shapes to represent the entrances. While I really liked the ideas I was not happy with the colours and this led to a second experiment.

This time I used a magenta dyed piece which I screen printed with gold script before appliquéing the shapes. On this this piece I also used free machine text.
I much prefer the magenta trial and plan to use this for the final piece.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Trial quilting

Today I have put together a small sample of the larger scale piece I want to make to see if I could scale up the quilting stitches and surface decoration I will need to create.
I tacked the outline of each piece so that I could work from the back on some sections to use thicker threads in the bobbin, this worked well with some Turkish threads given to me by a friend, but I don't have the colour I would need, but now I know the thickness I'm looking for.
I also used a stitch Angie Hughes taught me, loosening the bobbin tension and tightening the top tension when stitching a large stipple works well as long as you remember to work the machine at a fast speed but move the fabric really slowly. I really like the texture you get with this stitch and adding markle to the surface makes it look more like a carpet!

I also used the automatic lettering option to create quilted lines made up of text. From a distance it looks like wide lines of stitched pattern, the text is only obvious when looked at close to. I rather like the ambiguity of this.

I have also cut the bottom edge of the sample to echo the lines of the design and I'm please with that effect so will look at the possibilities of doing this to the final piece. I've tried some larger beads, and need to decide whether they are in fact too big. Large circles and padded circles under the felt have worked well but I find myself asking at what point stitching on an Art Quilt is acceptable rather than being seen as poor quality stitching, if you end up with exactly the effect you sought?

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Going for a different scale

Having decided to cut "Strata" up I'm now working on a variation of the same theme. Going back to my May JQ I really liked the flowing lines and thought that might be mileage in developing this at a bigger scale.
This scale will be too large to use bondaweb to construct the face fabric so I need a different method. Appliqué would give me too many fabric layers, and curved piecing may not be appropriate when there are so many curves to fit together.
Some time ago a friend who had been on Pat Deacon's irregular piecing course

showed me the technique. You trace the lines onto the reverse of the drawing and trace these new lines onto Freezer paper. Reference marks are drawn through each set of lines for matching up later and you have to work out which bits are concave and which convex, .The freezer paper is ironed into the WS of the fabric and each piece is cut out with a 1/2 inch seam allowance and all concave sections are snipped. You then need some spray starch and a small iron. Damp the snipped seam allowances and press them over the freezer paper, the starch holds them in place. you then match each pair of sections WS up so that the snipped section fit under the convex sections. They are held in place with stick tape until stitched using the blind hem stitch on the machine. The thrown stitch going into the sections with the folded edges. Its what I think I need for this piece. So.....
I have made some samples to try it out, learned a few important lessons about tracing curved lines and marking the source drawing properly before I do anything!!! However the most important thing being that the technique will allow me to do what I want to do.
Now I need to draw out the full piece and source my fabrics, some of which will be my own dyed and printed fabrics.
The photos show some of my sample pieces.